`Climate change is creating new spaces for pests'
Dan Bebber of the University of Exeter, the UK, has published a
spreading globally and inadequacies in our prediction models Is the distribution of crop pests and pathogens across the world a serious concern? Highly virulent strains are evolving rapidly and these organisms are destroying huge amounts of food. For example, the new Lethal Necrosis disease, which evolved in Africa, kills maize plants and there is no cure for it. What's driving the distribution of the pests? The main driver is human activity such as trade of agricultural products and transport of live plants. Some organisms move by themselves, such as the wind-borne spores of fungi. Climate change is also making new areas suitable for certain pests and pathogens. What's wrong with the current system of prediction of pest movement? The most common methods look only at the suitability of the climate. They do not take into account the availability of host plants, trade routes, and the evolution of pests and pathogens. How can we control the problem? We need better monitoring and reporting of where pests and pathogens are located, particularly in the developing world.